Israel's Good News Newsletter to 9th Feb 20


·         A new treatment may be a future cure for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
·         Microsoft Israel is developing an app to help patients find clinical trials.
·         WIZO celebrates a century of support for Israel.
·         Major upgrade in Israel’s relations with Uganda, Sudan and Bolivia.
·         Boeing adopts innovative Israeli vertical-takeoff technology.
·         Successful bond issue is a vote of confidence in Israeli economy.
·         Site of ancient Jewish worship discovered near Jerusalem.

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ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Inhibiting an enzyme may cure Alzheimer’s. Israel’s ProteKt Therapeutics is developing a treatment for early stage Alzheimer’s disease. It inhibits the PKR enzyme that is over-expressed in Alzheimer’s patients and may slow or even reverse the progress of the disease. It also has potential for ALS, Huntington and Parkinson’s.

Orphan status for pancreatic cancer treatment. (TY Atid-EDI) The European Commission has just granted Orphan drug status to the BL-8040 (Motixafortide) pancreatic cancer treatment from Israel’s BioLineRX (see here). BioLineRX can now receive benefits including EU funding, less regulation, and market exclusivity.

HealthTECH World Cancer Day. Tel Aviv University represented Israel on World Cancer day as one of five European cities simultaneously broadcasting news of the latest technological developments in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The event was sponsored by the NOBEL Project, which is revolutionizing healthcare in Europe.

Sheba’s partners Berlin AI for cancer R&D. (TY Atid-EDI) Berlin’s caresyntax, has launched an R&D partnership with the ARC (Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate) complex at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. They will use Artificial Intelligence to develop algorithms for predicting outcomes for cancer treatment procedures.

US approves complete AI stroke detection package. (TY Atid-EDI) The US FDA previously approved the brain scan software from Israel’s Aidoc (Oct 2018),. It has now approved all four of Aidoc’s AI products, so its comprehensive package can quickly identify and triage both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in CT scans.

Accelerating regenerative medicine. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s CollPlant is partnering with US-based 3D Systems to spur breakthroughs in regenerative medicine. It brings together top 3D-printing technology with Collprint’s bioink technology for 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs.

Space medical research with Italy. (TY WIN) Israel and Italy are to launch a satellite in March, on which medical research will be conducted in zero gravity. The mission involves Israel’s SpacePharma (see here), Israel’s Technion, Sheba hospital, the Hebrew University and the Israeli and Italian space agencies.

Body on a chip. (TY David F) A team of over 50 researchers at Harvard University and Tel Aviv University (TAU) have successfully built human “organs-on-chips” that aim to speed up trials of new treatments. They have linked 10 chips together to form a “functional human Body-on-Chips platform”.

Microsoft Israel gives patients hope. As reported previously (Feb 2019) Microsoft’s Israeli R&D team developed the Microsoft Healthcare AI virtual medical assistant. Team leader Hadas Bitran describes the project. They are now working on the New Hope project to match patients with clinical trials around the globe.

The first Hasid to graduate from Israeli med school. Dr. Yehuda Sabiner is the first Israeli-born Haredi to graduate from medical school. A member of the Gerrer Hasidic sect, Yehuda enrolled at Israel’s Technion, graduated and will intern at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. 35 Haredim are now following in his footsteps.


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

House of Wheels – equal among equal. The six centers of Israeli charity House of Wheels are home to a socially inclusive environment where 500 children, youth and young adults with disabilities (Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, Christians, Muslims, and Druze) can reach their full potential. A very moving video.

Youth of Light. The Patrizio Paoletti Association in Israel has established “Youth of Light” projects for youth at risk from all sectors of Israeli society. They make candles from recycled wax at three sites. Some 120 teens are employed per year, helping them develop into well-adjusted adults. Israel Venture Network is a key partner.

100 years of caring for Israel. The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) has just celebrated a century of caring for the disadvantaged in Israel. More than 1,000 women representing Jewish communities from 40 countries attended its conference, held festive events and visited many of WIZO’s projects in Israel.

Israel picks Ethiopian-Israeli for 2020 Eurovision. Jerusalem’s Eden Alene is first Ethiopian-Israeli to represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest. She won Israel’s Hakohav Haba (The Next Star). Her diverse background includes religious and secular schools plus singing in a Jewish and Arab choir.

Texas Governor scouts for Israeli tech. Texas Governor Greg Abbott headed an economic development mission to Israel to develop new and existing partnerships with Israeli entrepreneurs in the cybersecurity, energy, and health sectors. They visited Startup Nation Central and Sheba Medical Center.

Upgrading ties with Uganda and Sudan. (TY UWI) Israeli PM Netanyahu made a one-day trip to Uganda where he and President Yoweri Museveni discussed opening an embassy in Jerusalem. During the visit he also met with the transitional leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who was keen to improve ties with Israel.

Relations restored with Bolivia. (TY UWI & TPS) For the first time in 14 years, an Israeli Foreign Ministry delegation met with senior Bolivian government officials in La Paz for talks following the resumption of relations between the countries two months ago. Both sides agreed on various areas for cooperation.

Protective kits for Chabad in China. Israeli medical organization Magen David Adom is sending items of equipment to China's 14 Chabad Houses to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus. They include 2,000 masks and 200 full protection kits each containing special suits, masks, glasses, shoes and hats covers.

Matching volunteers to causes. Israeli startup GivingWay matches volunteers with non-profits desperately needing the help. GivingWay now has 4,000 vetted nonprofits in 123 countries on its platform, connecting with thousands of volunteers worldwide. 50% of volunteers work from home, e.g. building websites for the charity.


SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Two new gas power plants. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel is to build two power units at Hadera by 2022, to be operated solely with natural gas. The units will supply 1,200 megawatts of power, replacing four coal-fired production units as part of Israel’s plan to eliminate coal usage by 2025 and improve air quality.

Boeing partnership for vertical takeoff tech. US giant Boeing has signed an agreement with Israel’s Tactical Robotics to explore, develop, produce and market Fancraft-based VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) products. Tactical Robotics has been developing the Cormarant unmanned airborne vehicle (see here).

OrCam’s new products. As reported previously (12th Jan), Israel’s OrCam wowed delegates at CES 2020 with OrCam Hear and a new MyEye2. It also showcased OrCam Read - that vocalizes printed or digital texts in real time. And OrCam MyMe – a wearable that uses facial recognition to identify someone to a blind person.

Security risks from suspect cars. (TY UWI & I24 News) Israeli-founded Quest Solution Inc has developed AI-based vehicle recognition and fast proactive database retrieval and analysis to identify security risks. It provides alerts to prevent terrorist incidents - protecting critical infrastructure, schools and more.

What is real?  Some readers may be concerned that the latest Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and smart image editing could result in a world of fake videos.  Fortunately, Israel’s Cyabra has developed technology that detects expertly doctored videos as well as bots (cyber robots) powering fake social-media profiles.

Control your IoT devices globally. Israel’s London-based FloLive offers a cloud-based IoT connectivity service that enables companies in the IoT industry to deploy, manage, and operate their IoT devices from anywhere in the world. It has just raised $21.5 million to help it expand in Europe, Asia and North America.

Making streetlights smart. Israeli startup ACiiST converts streetlights into a connected, data-gathering network. ACiiST’s black boxes, roughly the size of two iPhones, attach to existing lampposts. They contain hardware and software that can be used to connect with cameras, closed-circuit television, sensors, and wifi.

Electric car charging for US & Canada. One of the joint US-Israel BIRD Foundation-funded energy projects reported recently (see here) is the one partnering Israel’s Chakratec with Blink Charging.  Chakratec’s unique “kinetic storage” technology will improve the performance of Blink’s charging stations in rural areas.

Turning novice support staff into experts. Israeli-founded Aquant Technologies develops an AI-driven Service Intelligence Platform that provides all customer service employees with access to a company’s knowledgebase (information library). It generates a neural network that maps problems to the right solutions.

Training students to protect crops. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli-founded ADAMA and Tel Aviv University have launched a unique research and teaching program. It is anticipated to help combat crop disease, enhance yields and food supply, while requiring less chemicals, thus protecting the environment and the food chain.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Huge demand for Israeli bonds. Israel has raised a record $3 billion in foreign debt at the lowest-ever rate for an Israeli offering. Demand reached an all-time high, from over 40 countries including the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Hong Kong. It reflected confidence among the world's largest investors in Israel's economy.

Powering NYC’s International fintech center. Israeli startups underpin New York City’s fintech ecosystem. Now, Jerusalem’s JVP and NYC’s Economic Development Corporation have launched the $100 million International NYC Cyber Center. (At the launch actress Gwyneth Paltrow said, “Next Year in Jerusalem”!)

New Sun d’Or summer destinations. El Al subsidiary Sun d’Or is launching three new seasonal routes from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. The new routes are to Romanian city of Cluj, starting May 2020; to Paphos, Cyprus, starting in June; and to Verona, Italy from July. The routes will then operate until the end of October.

Building UAVs with India. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is partnering with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Dynamatic Technologies (DTL). IAI will share drone technologies and promote the production of Indian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Tel Aviv – London innovation partnership. Tel Aviv-headquartered startup network SOSA has partnered with London innovation center Plexal. SOSA combines an investor network with a corporate innovation hub operating from centers in Tel Aviv and New York City.  It already has 250 partners in 10 countries.

SodaStream targets China’s market. SodaStream’s new CEO, Eyal Shohat, is planning to launch in China in 2021. SodaStream is Israeli’s largest civil employer of Bedouin women, prisoners, Ethiopian-Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. It is currently preventing millions of bottles of plastic waste every year.

SAP identifies with Israeli startup. German multinational software firm SAP has invested in Israeli startup PlainID, a maker of software that enables single authorizations. PlainID’s products protect the digital assets of users of SAP’s Customer Data Cloud platform by securing cloud, mobile, and other applications.

Hyundai backs Israeli speech-tech startup. The Hyundai Motor Company has led a seed-funding round into Israeli startup Kardome Technology. Kardome develops a multi-user speech to text algorithm that focuses in on a person’s individual voice, filtering out background noise in acoustically challenging environments.

Cisco backs Israeli testing startup. Computer giant Cisco has led an $8.6 million funding round in Israel’s SeaLights Technologies. SeaLights offers a cloud-based software testing automation service designed to identify and prevent untested code changes. The company lists Dell as one of its customers.

Tnuva links up to IoT startup.  Israeli-based Tnuva (owned by China’s Bright Foods) has partnered with Israel’s Seebo (see here) to help it adopt AI and IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Seebo turns existing machinery into smart, connected systems, which Tnuva believes can revolutionize the dairy industry.

Intel Israel has a great year. Israel’s largest multinational, Intel, exported $6.6 billion of Israeli products in 2019 – a huge 70% increase on its $3.9 billion in 2018. Much was due to its new Kiryat Gat factory reaching full production. Intel now has some 13,700 employees in Israel, including 900 who work for Mobileye.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`

Free books for children. Food giant McDonalds in Israel is giving away free reading books to children when they or their parents buy Happy Meals. “The Everforest Twins: Adventures in the Wild World”, are written by the children's author Cressida Cowell and have been translated into Hebrew and Arabic.

Read about Israeli chutzpah. Israeli entrepreneur Inbal Arieli is also the author of “Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. She explains how Israel’s unique culture generates “disruptors” who want to change the world. Factors include parenting and uncertainty that encourage pushing the boundaries.

Israel’s desert is alive. 150 wildlife photographers submitted some 500 photos to judges at the Planet Arava 2 festival and competition in Eilat. The aim of the festival was “to promote the Arava’s landscape and animals through photography by people who feel an affinity for the region and its beauty”.

Jerusalem’s new tropical paradise. Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ Tropical Conservatory has reopened to the public after an 18-month, $2 million transformation. Its rainforest and desert regions contain some 300 kinds of plants, including endangered species, exotic banana trees, coffee plants, orchids and cacti.

The best restaurant in Paris is Israeli. Shabour, the new restaurant by Israeli chef Assaf Granit, which launched just three months ago in Paris, was named as the French capital’s “Best restaurant of the Year” by Le Figaroscope, the Parisian cultural and gastronomical guide published by the French daily Le Figaro.

Red Hot Chili Peppers return. The rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers are returning to Tel Aviv for the first time since 2012 (see here). They will be the top group at the Funkyard Tel Aviv Festival at Hayarkon Park on June 10. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Red-Hot-Chili-Pepper-returning-to-Israel-616307

Israeli skater wins European medal. (TY UWI & Janglo) 30-year-old Israeli speed skater Vladislav Bykanov won a bronze medal in the 1,500 meters race at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championship in Hungary. He is now looking to qualify for Tokyo, which would be his third Olympic Games.

THE JEWISH STATE

Pop star Noa joins the IDF. Israel’s up-and-coming music sensation, Noa Kirel, has just begun a two-year term in the IDF. She said, “I want to serve as an example for boys and girls to enlist.” A Rabbi told her parents to change her name from Noya to Noa as a baby, due to illness. He said it would enable her to move (“lanua”).

Ancient Jewish site uncovered. (TY TPS) Israeli archaeologists have exposed a late 10th-early 9th century BCE Iron Age temple complex at Tel Motza, west of Jerusalem. It has similarities to King Solomon’s Temple and may be one of the sites that were abandoned when sacrificial services were centralized in Jerusalem.

Christian students see Israel’s diversity. The non-profit Passages organizes 9-day trips to Israel for 3,000 Christian college students each year. It teaches them about the roots of their faith and exposes them to modern Israel. Participants give post-trip talks to churches and write articles for local newspapers.